BBQ Guide - Steak cuts


Complete barbecue guide
Baby your grill, select the tastiest steaks, and get easy grilling recipes

By Jennifer Danter
First published in Chatelaine’s June 2003 issue.
© Rogers Publishing Ltd.

Steak cuts

Depending on the cut, some steaks are naturally tender while others need marinating. Both can be delicious and it’s fun to experiment with different tastes and textures. Whether you take a trip to the grocer or butcher, here’s what to look for.

Grilling steaks
These require no marinating but can benefit from spice rubs or sauces for a different taste. The most flavourful, tender and juicy steaks are “marbled” with thin veins of ivory-coloured fat evenly running throughout the meat.

Steak cut Profile
Tenderloin • Small, round, incredibly tender steaks
• Also available as filet mignons, tournedos and Chateaubriands
• No bones and little fat
• Mild flavour and expensive
Rib eye • Steak version of a prime rib roast
• Choose large thick steaks, at least 1-inch (2.5-cm) thick
T-bone • Cut from centre of short loin
• Has T-shaped bone separating small tenderloin section from larger top loin
• The most flavourful steak; meat closest to the bone is extra tasty
Porterhouse • Similar to T-bone but with a larger portion of tenderloin
• Not as common in grocery stores but often the butcher’s top pick
• Good value for money–you get both the T-bone and rib eye
Strip loin • Butchers also call this New York strip
• A very tender cut–it’s what left when the tenderloin is “stripped” from the loin
• Generally cut to 2 1/2-inches (6.5-cm) thick
Top sirloin • Enormous steaks–good for feeding a crowd
• Tender enough not to require marinating and incredibly flavourful
• Taken from an area between the loin and sirloin (the hip)
• Least expensive of the tender cuts and best value for money

Marinating steaks
These are usually less expensive than grilling steaks and not as naturally tender. Marinating helps tenderize the meat and gives a flavour boost, too.

Steak cut Profile
Flank steak • Thin flat muscle that runs along the underbelly
• Best cooked to medium-rare and sliced across the grain
• Benefits from a few hours or overnight marinating
Eye of round • Looks like a big tenderloin steak, but has more flavour
• Often sold crusted with peppercorns and herbs
Inside and outside round • Large steaks–good for sharing
• Better flavour and texture if marinated overnight

For more information, call 1-888-248-BEEF or log on to

  • Intro
  Spring cleaning
  • Choosing a new grill
  • Tools of the trade
  • Supermarket vs. butcher steaks
  • Steak cuts
  • 5 easy grilling recipes
  • Get grilling! cooking tips
  • Salad days
  • 65 barbecue classics
  • Light grilled dinner
  • Weekend grilling menu
  • Casual backyard sipping
  • Choose barbecue as your cooking method in our Recipe File
  • Swap grilling tips with others in our Food + recipes forum

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